Homeless volunteer to help Leeds charity to deliver hundreds of presents on Christmas Day

A Leeds charity is delivering hundreds of presents on Christmas Day with the help of volunteers and the first occupant of its container home project for the homeless.

Thursday, 24th December 2020, 4:45 pm

Vulnerable Citizen Support received hundreds of donated new toys and presents after putting an appeal out in November, which are going out to some of the struggling families in Leeds that it helps on Christmas Day.

Josh Ellis, who was previously sleeping rough under a bridge in Leeds, has been working with Vulnerable Citizen Support for the last three weeks and will help to deliver the gifts.

Josh is the first recipient of an intensive support programme which will eventually see him move into the charity’s first container home in Leeds.Joanne Crosthwaite from VCS said: “We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of people donating presents, especially in such challenging times, these gifts will make a huge difference to some of our families who are struggling to provide presents this year."

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Josh and Haydn (photo: VCS)

Thanks to the generosity of supporters, Vulnerable Citizen Support has raised enough money to place Josh in a B & B over the Christmas period until its first container home is ready and a suitable piece of land to house it is secured.

In the meantime, it has started to support Josh in getting his life back on track, which includes volunteering with the charity three days a week, and gaining work experience with other local firms.

Haydn Lee, director of VCS said: “Josh is the perfect candidate for our container home – he just needs a small bit of help to get back on track, which we can provide.

"Since we started supporting him, he has worked really hard at our welfare centre, helping us deliver food parcels, collect furniture and organise the presents and we have no doubt that he’s going to do really well.

"He is just the tip of the iceberg though, just yesterday another gentleman walked into our centre who is back on the streets after been placed in shelters, and we hope his story can illustrate how unique our project is and how it could complement existing council provision.”

The charity has been inundated with referrals for food parcels in the run up to Christmas as people continue to feel the effects of the current pandemic.

It will be delivering food parcels as normal throughout the Christmas period.

Since February, when VCS was established, it has provided over 50,000 meals to more than 500 struggling families, housed 15 homeless families, made more than 500 baby bank referrals and delivered anti-knife crime workshops to over 2000 students.

Its container home will provide living space for one person for six months to a year.

During that time, VCS will provide employability training, support looking for jobs, or referrals and liaison with other agencies that can help with a permanent housing solution, as it has done with Josh. The project is almost complete but the charity is still searching for a suitable piece of land.

To support Vulnerable Citizen Support’s work into 2021, please click here.